Organza project launched to explore creativity in Europe

Institutions across Europe will be asking what they can learn from each other’s creative industries with the launch of new research project Organza.

The three-year-long collaboration, which is largely financed by the European Regional Development Fund, will investigate the conditions in which creative industries thrive, with the aim of improving policy-making across Europe.

Organza is targeted at medium-sized European cities with pockets of creativity, but where talent and skills are often lost to bigger cities before they can improve the economy.

The project will be led by the Municipality of Arnhem in The Netherlands. Organza project director Esther Ruiten says, ’We have a specialist university in Arnhem, the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, but there is a “brain drain” when students leave for Amsterdam, Paris and London.’

The initial research stage will be led by Lynn Oxborrow, marketing, retail and operations lecturer at Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University. Oxborrow says, ’The first step is to clarify what the creative industries consist of in each of the nine regions. In Arnhem it means fashion, but in Nottingham we’ve got a lot of Web and software design.’

The 13 partner organisations will then explore best practice in each region. Oxborrow says, ’We’ll question how dependent the success of one activity is on regional context and what would be needed to take an activity and make it work elsewhere.’

Steven Cleeren, international project co-ordinator at Design Flanders, hopes that Organza will provide insight into what governance is needed to knit together Flanders’ ’fragmented’ creative economy. Cleeren says, ’We want design and creativity to be a motor for entrepreneurship and for economic growth, but we need to have a clear view of what the opportunities are for the future.’

To do this Organza partners will visit each other’s successful ’support activities’ with the aim of setting up pilot projects back home. These could include incubators to help start-up businesses, access to funding, and methods of education and training.

In February, representatives visited Arhem to inspect relevant examples. There the local housing association had upgraded an area of low-
Nottingham will showcase Game City – an international video game festival where industry, academics and designers discuss approaches to gaming culture and practice – and Nottingham Trent University’s incubator unit The Hive, says Oxborrow.

Nottingham City Council economic development project manager Becky Smith says, ’The only way to develop provision for the sector is to ask it what is needed. We want to mould the future and help the creative sector to grow.’

Design Business Association chief executive Deborah Dawton also supports the project’s aims. She says, ’The good thing about European initiatives is that they often include mechanisms to disseminate best practice, which means that bodies not directly involved can also tap into the research.’

Organza’s legacy will be an information database that can be used to study best practice across Europe. Oxborrow says, ’We want there to be an exit strategy, so we’ll be leaving our findings in a way where they can have some kind of life.’

Organza project partners

Municipality of Arnhem (lead partner) – The Netherlands
ArtEZ Institute of the Arts – The Netherlands
WFB Bremen Economic Development – Germany
Cotton Textile and Clothing Centre – Italy
City Hall of Iasi – Romania
’Gheorghe Asachi’ Technical University Iasi – Romania
Technical University of Kosice – Slovakia
City of Presov Municipality – Slovakia
Nottingham Trent University – United Kingdom
Design Flanders – Belgium
Treviso Tecnologia – Italy
Varese Chamber of Commerce -Italy
Innovation and Technology Agency of Navarra SA – Spain

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